Greg Larsen: Let’s bring our neighbors in from the cold

Published: 2/5/2021 5:47:37 PM

Per a Jan. 31 story in the Gazette, many of our neighbors have been sleeping outside in the frigid weather we’ve experienced lately. Not just in big cities like Boston, Springfield, and Worcester, but right here in the Valley.

It was already like this before COVID-19, and it’s getting worse now. I know some people and organizations are working hard, but we need to commit more resources to this pressing problem. In an area with this much wealth, nobody should be facing negative wind chills and 6-foot snowfalls in a tent.

If we don’t pay to house these people, we’ll be paying to dig their frozen bodies out of the snow. Some unhoused people are already being housed in hotel rooms at the University Lodge in Amherst. This is a great idea, and other municipalities like Austin, Texas are doing similar things with hotels left empty by COVID-19.

The towns around here just need to ramp it up to meet the demand. There are several empty-looking hotels on Route 9 that should do nicely. A sensible solution would also involve offering these vulnerable members of our community COVID-19 vaccines in the process, and pressing the state and federal governments to back us up.

Many people around here like to think of this area as an enlightened place where people care about each other. If we were really like that, we’d ensure that everyone had safe, permanent housing. The money’s here, the hotels are here, all that remains is the political will to bring our neighbors in from the cold.

Greg Larsen

Hadley




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